Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Robert Venditti & Mike Huddleston's The Homeland Directive

The Homeland Directive
Robert Venditti & Mike Huddleston

The Homeland Directive is one of my favorite conspiracy thrillers of any medium.  As a genre, original thrillers have been under represented in comics.  I've mentioned Pierre Christin and Enki Bilal's The Hunting Party.  Also of note is Brian Azzarello and Eduadrdo Risso's 100 Bullets.  They are the exceptions that prove the rule.  The Homeland Directive is not just a  magnificent comic book.  Before diging into how it takes advantage of comics as a medium I want to say a few things about the writer and the story.

Robert Venditti has mostly worked for Top Shelf.  Apparently he started out as a volunteer in the mail room.  His first and continuing  series The Surrogates was a runaway success for Venditti and Top Shelf.   What made that series so enjoyable for me was not its glimpse into a wildly innovative dystopia nor was it the wonderful collaboration between writer and artist.  Rather it is Venditti's talent for telling stories squarely in the realm of genre fiction that take unpredictable but unforced twists with three dimensional characters.

These twists and dimensionality shine through in The Homeland Directive.  Without giving too much away, by page 24 you find out that the main character is caught betwean a conspiracy and a counter-conspiracy.  Venditti uses this to side step some genre tropes which I always had as pet-peeves.  The conspiracies are not global with unlimited  and unrealistic resources brought down by a sequences of deus ex machinas.  Rather it is the missteps and overlooked facts that create the dramatic tension between the two conspiracies.  Unrealistic villains are always frustrating but the idea that a person or persons capable of manipulating multiple levels of governmental jurisdictions who need to stoop to melodramatic world domination is a bridge too far.  Venditti characters all have realistic and mixed motives behind their actions.   While there are clearly villains there are many levels of grey between them and the heroes.

As you can see in this page, Mike Huddleston uses lines very sparingly and his figure drawing is far simpler and more abstract than his work on Butcher Baker The Righteous Maker.  It is the coloring that really stands out in this book.  For most of the book the colors are light and lay on top of the heavier inks.  Unlike mainstream coloring this highlights the line work rather than completing or obscuring it.  The collaboration between Venditti and Huddleston results in some truly excellent storytelling.  They shift not just the color palette but color techniques as the narrative shifts between the perspectives of different players in the conspiracies.  It creates this wonderful and almost unique pacing and I strongly suggest you go check it out if you are a fan of the genera or the medium.
You can buy a hard or digital copy from Top Self. Also check out Robert Venditti bio-page.

Warning, possible spoiler alert.

I will moderate commitments for civility, but if people would rather use this blog as a chances to discuses the book amount folks that have already read the book, I am great with that.  So If you haven't read the book hold off on reading the comments until you have.


  1. Great recommendation. A beautiful book and terrific story. I'm ready for the sequel.

  2. I know. The Surrogates was good but I liked Homeland better. I can get you a copy of Vol. 1&2 of The Surrogates. I think The Surrogates: Case Files is suppose to be stand alone near future fiction like Warren Ellis's Fell.